Congratulations to FIU Law Alumni Association Vice President Olivia C. Rodriguez ’10 on her recent election to the CABA Board of Directors.
When the Florida Legislature established FIU Law in 2000, it did so based on the ideal that the law school would provide a high-quality legal education that was affordable and accessible. In 2002, men and women of the inaugural class took a gamble on FIU Law, which had yet to be accredited. Their risk paid off. “I count myself lucky to have been a part of the FIU Law inaugural class,” said Christy Lopez. “I had complete confidence that I would be prepared to pass the bar and be practice ready. FIU Law provided me with all of that and more.”
To celebrate this group of trailblazers, the FIU Law Alumni Association, with the assistance of host committee chairs Alejandro “Alex” Raul Alvarez, Natalie Inchaustegui-Duenas, Jennifer Remy-Estornio and Mauricio Damian Rivero held a special event: Honoring our Beginning. For co-chair, Natalie Inchaustegui-Duenas, it was a time to reconnect with colleagues and reaffirm her commitment to FIU Law. “Being at the reception reminded me of how proud I am to be an FIU Law alumna and how important my class was in laying the foundation for the law school and future graduates,” she said.
Throughout the evening, professors and alumni reminisced about all the growing pains and ‘firsts’ they experienced during those early years. It was an opportunity to marvel at how far they had come as lawyers and to see what their alma mater has become.
The celebration was marked with the unveiling of a plaque which lists the names of the men and women from the inaugural class. The plaque was generously donated by the FIU Law Alumni Association. For Alumni President Robert Scavone Jr., it was a time to recognize the class of 2002 as “pioneers and risk takers.” “The graduates who followed you and those who will follow owe you a debt of gratitude for proving that with a law degree from FIU Law there is nothing you cannot do,” said Scavone Jr.
In May of 2014, FIU Law will graduate its 10th class. Since opening its doors in 2002, FIU Law was accredited in record time, rose more than 40 spots in the U.S. News & World Report law school rankings, graduated more than 1100 practice-ready attorneys.
For the first time in FIU College of Law Board of Advocates 10 year history, two teams captured both the regional championship and runner-up titles during the ABA Southeast Regional Negotiation Competition, which was held at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. Taking first place was the team of Scheril Murray and Christopher Miranda, in second place Ashley Hersutamto and Daniel Blackman, and the team of Cinthya Beato and Daniel Horton finished in seventh. Co-Director and Associate Professor of Legal Skills and Values, Professor David D. Walter served as the team’s faculty coach and mentor.
The regional competition drew 20 teams from throughout Florida, Georgia, South and North Carolinas. The two-person team consists of two JD candidates who negotiate on behalf of their client to resolve a dispute or negotiate an agreement. For single mom and second year evening student, Scheril Murray, who commutes from West Palm Beach, the victory was a team effort. “The entire team, even those that did not compete, were completely invested in our success. They practiced and role played with us until we felt like experts in the material,” Murray commented. She went on to boast that “FIU’s negotiation team has a history of excellence and it is an honor to be a member and compete in FIU’s name.”
The competition helps promote greater interest among law students in legal negotiation and provides a means for them to practice and improve their negotiating skills. The simulations consist of a common set of facts known by all participants and confidential information known only to the participants representing a particular side. All of the simulations deal with the same general topic, but the negotiation situation varies with each round and level of the competition.
“We’ve won our Region five times in the past seven years, and we’ve sent a team to the National Finals eight times in the past 10 years,” said Professor Walter, “but this is the first time we’ve placed first and second and had the opportunity to send two teams to the National Finals!” “This shows how good our FIU students really are, but it also says much about their team work and incredible work ethic as well.”
Murray and Miranda, and Hersutamto and Blackman, will now advance to the ABA National Negotiation Finals in Chicago in February 2014 where the top 24 law school negotiation teams will vie for the national title.
On October 17 2013, FIU College of Law’s Black Law Students Association and Caribbean Student Bar Associations presented the Third Annual Judicial Panel –Paving the Way to Judicial Success – and welcomed Florida Supreme Court Justice Peggy A. Quince, former Florida Supreme Court Justice Raoul G. Cantero, III, Honorable Alicia M. Otazo-Reyes, United States District Court, Southern District of Florida and Honorable Donald Graham, United States District Court Southern District of Florida as panelist. The panel members discussed their expectations for hiring clerks as well as clerkship and mentorship opportunities.
The open dialogue between the students and panelists allowed for the sharing of ‘real life’ experiences including how to pursue the law profession, how to evaluate law firms and the process of selecting the right one.
In addition to the panel discussion, three law students were presented with scholarships. The scholarships were created during the College of Law’s 10th anniversary celebration and are named after Florida Supreme Court Justices Barbara J. Pariente, R. Fred Lewis and Peggy A. Quince for the continuous support of the College of Law.
Scholarships were awarded to:
Justice Barbara J. Pariente Scholarship - Franco Bacigalupo
Justice R. Fred Lewis Scholarship – Chanel Rowe
Justice Peggy A. Quince Scholarship – Altanese Phenelus
Since 2009, 17 alumni have accepted 23 State Appellate or Federal Clerkships, including six at U.S. Courts of Appeals. Read More.
Evening Alumni Join to Create Evening Student Scholarship
Former evening students have come together to create an evening student scholarship program. Led by Alumni Association President, Robert Scavone Jr. ’12, alumni I. Seth Denison ’10, Robert Foley ’10, Gunnar Mandrisch ’12, Pamela Pedlow ’06, Sanjeev Shah ’12, and Roberto Suarez ’11, will each donate $500.00 a year for five years. The funds will provide scholarships for evening students who have at least 5 years of post-undergraduate work experience and remain employed while attending classes at FIU Law.
“When the group began discussing the scholarship, there was a consensus that many evening students deserve to be recognized for their accomplishments. Evening graduates are among the most successful FIU Law alumni, and the evening program is an asset to the profession. We hope what we are doing will inspire others to support FIU Law and its students,” said Scavone Jr.
“Our alumni are doing really well and are giving back,” said R. Alexander Acosta, Dean of the College of Law. “This group of alumni–many only a year into their legal career–came to FIU Law as successful professionals, and I am proud that we were able to helped them advance their careers.”
About the donors:
I. Seth Denison is a Director for Thoroughbred Capital Partners, a private equity firm, as well as an associate at the law firm of Jorge L. Gurian, P.A. Prior to law school and during law school, Denison served as a police officer in the town of Virginia Key Beach, Florida. Denison is treasurer of the FIU Law Alumni Association.
Robert Foley is founder of Robert P. Foley, P.A., where he focuses his practice on assisting military veterans in appeals for benefits before the Veteran’s Administration. Prior to law school, Foley spent several decades as a veterinarian and still owns Upper Keys Veterinary Hospital in Islamorada, Florida.
Gunnar Mandrisch is an associate at Peckar & Abramson, P.C., where he focuses his practice on construction law, land use law, environmental law, administrative law, and general business litigation. Prior to practicing law, Mandrisch worked with one of South Florida’s premier general contractors, where he served as an Estimator, Project Engineer, and Project Manager.
Pamela Pedlow is founder of The Law Office of Pamela J. Pedlow, P.A., in Melbourne, Florida, where she practices family law, foreclosure defense, bankruptcy, and civil litigation. Pedlow is a member of FIU Law’s inaugural class.
Sanjeev Shah is a regional director and principal with Lea+Elliott, Inc.—a transportation consultancy firm. A registered engineer and member of the Florida Bar, he leads the firm in providing strategic advisory services to clients on large infrastructure and transit projects. Shah has more than 20 years of extensive experience in the planning, programming, design, procurement structuring, contracting, and program management of automated guideway and rail transit systems.
Roberto Suarez is the founder of The Law Office of Roberto M. Suarez, PL, where he focuses his practice on intellectual property law. Suarez is a U.S registered patent attorney with more than 15 years of engineering experience. An inventor and patent holder in his own right, Suarez has developed innovative products for the aviation, marine, consumer electronics, and mobile devices industries.
Robert Scavone Jr. a law clerk to the Honorable Barbara Lagoa on the Florida Third District Court of Appeal and President of the FIU Law Alumni Association. He is also an adjunct professor at FIU Law. Scavone Jr. will begin a clerkship for the Honorable Adalberto Jordan on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit in the fall of 2014.
If you are interested in contributing to this or other scholarships, please contact Anthony Rionda at firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Wednesday September 18th, 2013 the FIU College of Law welcomed Mr. Ruben King-Shaw, Managing Partner and Chief Investment Officer of Mansa Capital for a lunch and lecture with student leaders as part of the FIU Executive in Residence Program.
Mr. King-Shaw, a graduate of Cornell University and FIU’s Chapman Graduate School of Business, discussed the importance of integrity in business and law, and embracing both opportunities. He challenged students to embrace Miami and its diversity, and use it to set themselves apart, “Your perspective should be diverse…if you embrace diversity and take it on the road with you, you will find that employers will embrace and value that edge”.
Mr. King-Shaw has previously served as a healthcare administrator and regulator, most recently as the Chief Operating Officer and Deputy Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
Alumni Association Launches Alumni/Student Mentoring Program
The Alumni Association will begin a new mentoring program this month. The program will match alumni with current 2L, 3L, and 4L students, and is designed to guide students as they begin to transition into the profession. Mentors will assist mentees in developing their professional networks and career plans.
“Our alumni give back in so many ways,” said Alumni Association President, Robert Scavone Jr. ’12. “I thank those alumni who signed up to be mentors. It shows how much they care about FIU Law and its students. I also applaud the Board for getting this program off the ground, and thank Olivia Rodriguez ’10, our Vice President, and Jared Stitz ’10 for taking the lead on this initiative. They deserve most of the credit for making this happen.”
“The alumni association is dedicated to serving as a liaison between students and the local legal community,” said Rodriguez. “The program will provide students with the opportunity to develop meaningful professional relationships with established members of the legal community who share the common bond of FIU Law.” Stitz added: “My mentor has guided me with career choices, technical development, and personal endeavors. I helped develop the mentor program so our law students would gain receive the same sort of professional and personal development. The program will continue to elevate FIU Law graduates in the legal community.”
More than 40 alumni enrolled as mentors. Christopher C. Kokoruda ’10 credited part of his success as a lawyer with the fact that he had a mentor while in law school. “As an alumnus of FIU Law and practicing attorney, I am grateful to the mentors who have given endlessly of themselves to share their knowledge and experience with me. I hope to be able to ignite that spark in others.”
Dozens of students requested mentors through the program. Second-year student, Audrey Salbo, is looking forward to meeting her mentor. “I requested a mentor because there is nothing like having a personal relationship with an attorney who can provide insight into the practice of law and help you expand your network. A mentor/mentee relationship provides law students with something they cannot get from reading a casebook: a confidant. It is an invaluable resource for up-and-coming lawyers.”
Daniel Blackman, also a 2L, echoed Salbo’s sentiments and is eager to make sure he has someone to confide in while transitioning to practice. “I regret not having a mentor in my 1L year. The next big step in my life will be to enter the legal profession. I want to have someone to help guide me as I take that step.”
The Alumni Association plans to keep this program in place next year and will have a call for mentors next summer.
DC Alumni Chapter hosts Noshing with Notables: Immigration Reform
The FIU Law DC Alumni Chapter, in conjunction with FIU in DC, hosted Noshing with Notables: A Discussion on Immigration Reform on Thursday, August 29th, 2013. Professor Juan Carlos Gomez joined the alumni gathering, held at Van Scoyoc and Associates, and helped frame the discussion on the issue. Notable panelists included Max Sevillia of National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials and Jose Parra of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s Office. Below are a few images from the event. To learn more or get involved with our the DC Law Alumni Chapter click here.
FIU Law Welcomes the 2013 Entering Class
On August 14th, the FIU College of Law will welcome approximately 160 incoming students as they embark on their law school careers. This journey begins with Orientation—a three-day program which is part of the Pathway to the Profession initiative at FIU Law. This initiative is a semester-by-semester plan designed to assist students both academically and professionally. Orientation is the first stage of the initiative.
Orientation is designed to help students begin life as a law student and to introduce them to the skills required to be academically successful. It is also designed to emphasize the importance of being professional and ethical as a student and a lawyer. FIU Law’s faculty, administration and alumni will guide students on their Pathway to the Profession to help them develop a plan to meet your individualized career goals.
This year, Orientation will culminate in a reception at the Wilkie D. Ferguson, Jr. United States Courthouse on August 16th. The reception will be preceded by a keynote address by the Honorable Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, after which, the Honorable Federico A. Moreno, Chief Judge of United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida will administer the First-Year Student Pledge.
Michelle D. Mason and Linda Calvert Hanson, Director, The Florida Bar, Henry Latimer Center for Professionalism
The Standing Committee on Professionalism and the Henry Latimer Center for Professionalism has selected Michelle D. Mason, senior associate dean of the Florida International University College of Law, as the winner of its 2013 Florida Bar Faculty Professionalism Award.
Each year, the award recognizes one faculty member or administrator of one of Florida’s law schools who through teaching, scholarship and service to the profession best supports or exemplifies the mission of the Standing Committee on Professionalism:
“To promote the fundamental ideals and values of professionalism within the legal system and to instill those ideals of character, competence, civility, and commitment in all those persons serving and seeking to serve therein.”